Iran’s state broadcaster has utilized hundreds of faux social media accounts to covertly spread pro-Iranian messaging online since at least 2011, targeting voters in nations including Britain and America, Facebook stated on Tuesday.
In a month-to-month report of accounts suspended for so-called coordinated inauthentic behavior, Facebook stated it had eliminated eight networks in recent weeks, along with one with links to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB).
The company additionally removed a U.S. network of faux accounts linked to QAnon, a fringe group that claims Democrats are behind international crime rings, and a separate U.S.-based campaign with links to white supremacist websites VDARE and the Unz Review.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, stated both U.S. networks lately started pushing coronavirus-related disinformation, benefiting from a surge in online interest in the pandemic to promote anti-Semitic and anti-Asian hate speech connected to it.
The networks further pushed content targeted on the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the report stated.
Gleicher stated the IRIB network had “substantial connections” to previously recognized Iranian disinformation campaigns, but it was too early to say whether it was instantly responsible for those operations.
The state-controlled IR-IB, which has its head appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Iranian officers have previously dismissed allegations of operating coordinated disinformation campaigns as ridiculous.